Isn't it heart-wrenching to have to throw away the vividly green beet tops that come free when you buy beets? It's hard to substitute them for the other greens you use, as they're not as happy to wilt as spinach, nor as non-intrusive in taste as salad greens.
The flip side is that these toughies have a personality of their own, and take on strong spices quite easily.
What I made today is inspired by the thoran dish of Kerala. The traditional dish has a spicy masala made of ground coconut, garlic, cumin and chillies. I've borrowed the notes without the spiciness, and thrown in a few short cuts along the way
5 cups of washed and drained beet greens (stalks optional)
Coconut milk or coconut milk powder (the equivalent of 1/4 cup)
1 tbs oil
1 stalk of curry leaves
1 dried deseeded chilli minus a little piece
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 pods of garlic
A piece of dried red chilli
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Coarsely grind the masala ingredients. I use a little grinding stone, but I have, in the past, used a rolling pin with success. Add the coconut milk or coconut milk powder (diluted with a little water) and set aside.
Heat oil in your biggest wok and add the seasoning ingredients (starting with the mustard and letting the seeds pop before adding the rest).
Add in the greens. I put in a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to get them to wilt and make space.
Stir in the coconut milk masala paste and cook, covered. Stir from time to time.
Don't be fooled by the fact that these are greens. They take a lot longer to cook than fenugreek or spinach, especially if you include the stalks.
We served them at lunch with chicken stewed in fermented bean paste and hot steamed rice.
The leftovers will be pureed and added to piranha dough tomorrow, and I shall feel inordinately pleased about my ability to recycle :)